Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 1)

February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 52 Comments
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Justification is not how you get into God’s family. It is what God declares about you once you become part of His family: that you are righteous before Him because of having put your trust in Christ.

Adoption is not how you get into God’s family. It is how you enjoy your place in God’s family: God gives you the “standing” of an adult child.

Regeneration is how you get into God’s family.

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28

There is a sense in which all of creation will one day be regenerated. It will be returned to the pristine condition in which it was originally created by God. So, even though this type of regeneration is not precisely the same thing we’re talking about in the salvation of men, it does teach us that regeneration deals not only with re-creation – a new birth – a new start – but with a new start that is specifically directed to be “unto God.” The soteriological implication of regeneration is not just a re-creation for a blank slate of experimentation. It is a re-creation pre-ordained to set things right – with God Himself as the focus of all life.

The basis for our definition of regeneration in the salvific sense can be found in Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

We were not justified by our own works or merit. We are not adopted because of our own works or merit. We are specifically told that our very salvation in every aspect is completely of God. It is according to His mercy, which flows from Him.

The word “regeneration” means “born again.” When a person is “born” the reason that you know he has been born is because of one over-arching feature about him or her: Life. People have been born once in sin, and the experience of being “born” spiritually is a second birth. We call it – just as Jesus called it – being “born again.”

If we received only a physical form of life at our first birth, we must receive some “new” type of life at our second birth. Here is a fuller definition of Regeneration: It is the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Over and above just having a definition, I want describe three main things about regeneration from Jesus’s most overt teaching about it: John 3:1-9.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

Nicodemus would have been very religious. He would have sacrificed and prayed in keeping with the Old Testament law. He would have been moral, and would have been in the habit of giving generously to the poor.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

Maybe Nicodemus came to Jesus at night out of shame, or maybe just out of a desire to have a private conversation with Him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Nicodemus struggled with this idea, but not because he wasn’t sharp enough to grasp it, and not because the concept was too obtuse. No, he couldn’t see the point because he was lost and, therefore, spiritually blind.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

John 3:4

People did this with Jesus’s teachings throughout the New Testament. There was once a lady at a well who wanted to know how Jesus could give her water when He didn’t have a dipper, even though He was talking about the Living Water of eternal life. (John 4:6-14) When Jesus talked about eating His Body and drinking His blood, meaning fellowshipping with Him in the Life-giving blessings of His crucifixion, some may have accused Him of cannibalism. (John 6:47-66) Many of the people that Jesus encountered were spiritually, albeit willfully, blind – just like lost folks today.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:5-7

Regeneration is intelligible. It’s understandable. It is basic. The meaning of it is simple (even though I don’t like the expression, “It’s simple to be saved,” because it minimizes the great and mighty work of salvation that the Lord accomplished in the plan of redemption.)

In a natural biological birth two parents are involved. In the Spiritual birth there are also two Parents involved: The Word of God…

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:18

… and the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

In natural biological birth the baby’s effort does not play a part. In the Spiritual birth Christians are born by God’s will, not our own.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

There is a simplicity to regeneration. There is a mystery to it, too, but everyone is familiar with having a baby, and with the truth that a baby is a brand new life. Christians are brand new creatures in Christ Jesus from the moment of salvation, with a new kind of life: eternal life, God’s life.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
Next time we will see that:
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

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  1. […] Elisha went about the Lord’s business “continually.” What a great testimony it would be if regenerated believers on the Lord Jesus Christ would resolve to serve Him, to walk with Him, to proclaim Him, […]

  2. […] is of the Lord, Spirit of Regeneration, spiritual Life, spiritually dead, stimuli, Zoe, Zoe life 1. Regeneration is intelligible. 2. Regeneration is […]

  3. […] *Regeneration: the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior […]

  4. […] the man of flesh, born of faithlessness and sin, who can never change. Isaac represents the second birth – the spiritual “rebirth,” which is born of faith. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and […]

  5. […] those who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross, the Lord will create a new heart, a right spirit, forgiveness for past sins, and the victory over repeated […]

  6. […] God. And He does not need to change so the people will like Him better. He must give His people a new heart because sinful hearts are not just indifferent about God. They are God-hating and […]

  7. […] Christians are children of God – both by regeneration and adoption. But that by no means can be rightfully taken to mean, that we “deserve” […]

  8. […] No one has faith unto salvation without God empowering that faith. God gets all the glory for regeneration, justification, adoption, redemption, sanctification, and everything else that goes along with […]

  9. […] for giving a testimony. The most obvious is: In order to give a testimony, you must be born again (John […]

  10. […] a conditional love. A child who disobeys his father is still that father’s child. No child, once born, can change the fact of who his father is. Nobody can go back and be “unborn.” NOTHING can […]

  11. […] If you’ve ever done any farming or gardening, you know that ground must be broken up before seeds can be planted. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. […]

  12. […] over sin, walking in the Spirit, without faith If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female.) But the […]

  13. […] He is active in regeneration. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, […]

  14. […] I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”) shows that Jonah had memorized Psalms 3:8 and […]

  15. […] you have been “born again” – that is, born into the family of God – your past sins are forgiven, your current sins […]

  16. […] a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my […]

  17. […] salvation is a life-changing experience. It is dramatic. It is miraculous. It is a real, personal, one-on-one encounter with Jesus Christ the Lord, the Almighty Son of the Living God, the […]

  18. […] I was “born again” to new life in Christ Jesus, I owed a debt to God I could never pay. My sins had violated His holy law, and no […]

  19. […] at all – and certainly unable to “fulfill” any righteous demands of God. Even as regenerate and redeemed children of God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, we find it very difficult to truly […]

  20. […] He made it so that resurrection is possible. Life doesn’t have to end in death. You can be “born again.” Your life was put in motion with your first birth, but with a new birth you can start over – […]

  21. […] you are truly a Christian – if you have been truly born again – you will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Your works will be judged there, but you […]

  22. […] which we inherited from our earthly father, Adam, and from our spiritual father, Satan, prior to regeneration. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than […]

  23. […] – people – that He gave His Son (John 3:16). He made your heart – and if you’ve been regenerated He made your new heart (Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17). He made it so that the issues of life […]

  24. […] renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out […]

  25. […] a visible difference in my appearance. But what are we to make of a person who claims to have had a life-changing encounter with the Thrice-Holy God of the Universe, yet remains basically unchanged in behavior and […]

  26. […] not pretend that just standing by and watching absolves one from sin or guilt. Now that he had been born again, and had been appointed as God’s missionary to the gentiles, he was saying, in effect, “I […]

  27. […] He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that […]

  28. […] He made it so that resurrection is possible. Life doesn’t have to end in death. You can be “born again.” Your life was put in motion with your first birth, but with a new birth you can start over – […]

  29. […] understand the term “saved” to be synonymous with “born again” or “regenerated,” then let me ask you this: From what were you […]

  30. […] God the righteous imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who are truly born again. […]

  31. […] However, you can not have the Spirit at all – much less be filled – unless you have been born again. […]

  32. […] Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, […]

  33. […] that can make our hands acceptable to the Lord. Only His shed blood can do that, and once we are regenerated and justified by His grace through faith, we receive His imputed righteousness as free gift. This […]

  34. […] from Christ, we have no part with God. We are utterly alienated – not related by birth or adoption. But in Christ, we have a part with God – and not a distant, academic part – we are […]

  35. […] I’ve been a Christian all my life.” (This is actually an impossibility. No one is born as a Christian, which is why the Bible says you have to be “born […]

  36. […] you have been born again by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are victorious in Him and do not need to […]

  37. […] that this day is coming, we who are the children of God through the new birth would be very wise to watch how we live, and what we […]

  38. […] The Bible is not speaking here about emotional, psychological peace. It is speaking about the peace that ends a war. Enmity is hatred with a cause. When it came to the enmity between God and man, Jesus abolished it. He ended it – not just by making a truce or a cease-fire – but by reconciling two otherwise irreconcilable enemies. He did not bring God and man into mere tolerance of each other. He brought them into loving fellowship and everlasting familial bonds. […]

  39. […] and to manage well. When a person trusts Christ unto salvation, he receives, at the moment of his regeneration, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions in many different ways as He indwells the […]

  40. […] is this such a popular notion? One reason is that there is some partial truth to it. Those who are born again are waiting for the fulfillment of the glorious promise of having our faith become sight, and being […]

  41. […] Bible teaches that true Christians are those who have been born again to new life in Christ by the grace of God through faith. This “new life” is eternal […]

  42. […] of the many varied blessings of receiving the salvation of the Lord in Christ, is the creation of a new heart which is capable of responding to God’s love, and of loving Him back in true obedience. Our […]

  43. […] these reason, if we are to inherit eternal life, we must be “born again,” and, in this second birth, we must be “born of the […]

  44. […] household, having been brought into His family by both “birth” (the second birth of regeneration) and adoption. We willingly and lovingly minister to “strangers” (those who seem alien […]

  45. […] could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and […]

  46. […] he seeks to perform or demonstrate, is condemned before God. Unless they are born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel, every admiral, midshipman, and ensign in the […]

  47. […] earthly family by being born or by being adopted. You get into God’s family by being born again (regeneration). He also adopts born-again believers into His family (grants them status of adult children). This […]

  48. […] you have been regenerated, justified, and adopted by the Lord Jesus Christ, then you do not have to wonder at, work for, or […]

  49. […] Corinthians beleivers had been “washed” (regenerated), “sanctified” (set apart for God’s use and identification), and […]

  50. […] salvation in Christ Jesus changes who you are as a person, but it does not take away your non-sinful abilities. When the Apostle Paul wrote, “… […]

  51. […] believers an adult standing in His family. We get into God’s family by “birth” (regeneration, the second birth.) But we are given our standing (not our righteousness) by God through His act of […]

  52. […] judgments will occur for the two most important categories of people – saved vs. lost; born again vs. born once; saints vs. sinners; children of God vs. enemies of God; Christians vs. […]


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